Women of SF: Private Elizabeth (Dodger) Durman

I like to think of Babylon 5’s  Dodger as one the best female science fiction TV characters that never was.  She appears in exactly two episodes of Babylon 5 and in the second one she’s dead.  Private Elizabeth Durman, or ‘Dodger’, makes her entrance in the Season 2 episode, ‘GROPOS’, which stands for ‘Ground Pounders’ – B5 slang for the twenty-second century ground troops who briefly stop over at Babylon 5, much to the consternation of the more decorous Earth Force Officers who staff the station.

While at the station, Dodger takes a fancy to Security Chief Michael Garibaldi, but when he mistakes her as looking for a relationship and implicitly accuses her of complicating his life, Dodger takes him down with a great speech that demolishes his assumptions about what she wanted from him.  They patch it up before the end of the episode, but Dodger is sadly killed in action along with most of the other Ground Pounders.  The episode feels designed to make a point about the tragedy and waste of war, and is a lesson in the importance of seizing the day, because you never know how long you’re going to be around to enjoy it.  But Dodger is such a strong character that Neil Gaiman resurrects her in the episode he wrote for Season 5, ‘Day of Dead’, when an alien ritual gives some of the characters the chance to talk with dead people from their past.  Garibaldi’s encounter is with Dodger, who remains just as awesome post-mortem.

Despite her character’s short life-span, I think Dodger deserves recognition for her role in the development of female characters in science fiction TV.  She’s not unlike Battlestar Galactica’s Starbuck, only without the neuroses and self-loathing.  There’s nothing apologetic or self-pitying about Dodger: she’s totally herself, at ease with her sexuality, has a great sense of humour and is full of life, even after death.

“I didn’t come here expecting to set up housekeeping. I’m a Ground Pounder.  I’m cleaning latrines one day, the next I might be up to my hips in blood hoping that I don’t hear the round that takes me out. You got it? In between I like to see what I can get to remind myself that I’m alive.  Right, it’s not romance, but it’s all I got time for.  I’m so sorry it’s not enough for you”.

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2 thoughts on “Women of SF: Private Elizabeth (Dodger) Durman

  1. I like that she enjoys a good fight as much as a good shag, and isn’t apologetic about either. She’s just herself, you can take it or leave it.

  2. 100 sci fi women #68: Private Elizabeth (Dodger) Durman « Godard’s Letterboxes

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